Veterans Discrimination

Who is a veteran? Generally, a veteran is a person who has had a long standing experience or practice in a particular career, occupation or service. In this sense, there can be veterans in every field of human endeavour such as veteran journalists, veteran teachers, veteran bankers and even a veteran of politics. However, the most common usage of the word is for military or war veterans. Military veterans refer to those who have served in armed forces and some para-military outfits, whether or not it involved armed combats. Nowadays, whenever the word veteran is used without a clear context, it is taken to mean military or war veterans and this is the focus in this article.

How Society Responds to Veterans

As part of societal appreciation for their sacrifices, veterans are accorded a good amount of respect and honour in the countries they serve. However, this varies from one country to the other. While some governments have very robust and far reaching programs to attend to the needs of veterans, others almost ignore them shortly after the initial celebrations that accompanied their discharge from service. There is no doubt that the effect of military exposure can be very extreme and difficult to erase, whether we view this from a physical, psychological, emotional or social perspective. The challenges of veterans begin with being usually susceptible to peculiar behaviours or illnesses arising from their military service and the associated encounters. Studies have indicated cases of drug and alcohol abuse, posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, homelessness, relationship breakdowns, crime, suicides and other mental disorders identified with veterans. All of these have either led to or contributed largely to the negative feeling or general stigmatization from the larger society against veterans. However, governments are usually careful in handling the challenges veterans often pose in order not to amplify the negative outcomes of wars and discourage future military personnel. To compound the plight of veterans, employers have responded by covert and sometimes open discrimination against veterans in the work place.

Curbing Veteran Discrimination

Some veterans have found it difficult, or even impossible to adjust to the normal life in society, not just because of some disability or mental instability but due to discrimination. Therefore, the problem of veteran discrimination cannot be wished away but must be tackled with all the seriousness it deserves. Society owes a lot to the ultimate sacrifice of dead war heroes and their living counterparts for its welfare and security as well as for national and global peace. The burden of the fallouts of military service must not be left for veterans to bear alone. Some governments have established legislation to protect the rights of veterans against discrimination in the work place. Many governments and voluntary organizations have also established rehabilitation programmes and health facilities to attend to the disability and other health challenges faced by veterans. More initiatives are required however to provide entrepreneurial training, low-interest business loans and free housing for veterans. People must be educated to love and empathise with veterans.